Legalizing The Things That Homebrewers Do

While homebrewing is not illegal, most homebrewers are criminals. Seriously. In Washington, the law restricts homebrewers from transporting more than one gallon of beer out of their homes. Seriously. Any time homebrewers want to bring more than a single gallon of beer to a neighborhood barbecue, a homebrew club meeting, or a homebrewing competition, they are forced to break the law.

That might be changing because of legislation recently introduced in Olympia.

Homebrewing is a community kind of thing. People who brew are often members of groups and clubs, have competitions and conventions, and so on.  Let’s face it, a gallon of beer doesn’t go very far unless you’re drinking alone. The Washington Homebrewers Association (WHA) wanted to get the one gallon law changed and contacted Arlen Harris about doing just that.

That is a name you should know – Arlen Harris.  He is a former brewmaster (La Conner Brewing) and currently works in Olympia lobbying for the beer industry. He is the Executive Director of the Washington Beer Commission – which was established in 2006 to represent the interests of the local beer industry. You can meet Arlen at any WABL event. He’s always around, frequently acts as the emcee, and is a very approachable, nice guy.

Harris went to the capital looking for someone to sponsor legislation to change the homebrew laws. He found Sen. Ken Jacobsen. Last week Sen. Jacobsen introduced Senate Bill 5060 — legislation that would still prevent homebrewers from selling their beer, but increase the transportation limit to 20 gallons.

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Jacobsen has commented on the impact of homebrewing on the Washington’s craft beer industry. He points out that most professional craft brewers start out as homebrewers and that a lively homebrewing community can only help the craft beer business grow. Ya, that’s all true, but the law as it exists is stupid. It deserves to be changed because of that alone.

Cheers to Sen. Jacobsen. We recommend that you contact him and tell him you support SB 5060 and you appreciate his efforts. Click here to go to his Web site.



6 comments

  1. I believe the current law actually states that the only time you are allowed to transport your homebrew is for a sanctioned event or competition, and even then only up to a gallon.

    So really, any time a homebrewer takes their tasty beverage off their property in the state of Washington, unless it’s for a competition or sanctioned meeting, they’re breaking the law.

    The new law would allow transport for most uses (except for sale), and increase the amount to twenty gallons, as you mentioned.

  2. I believe the current law actually states that the only time you are allowed to transport your homebrew is for a sanctioned event or competition, and even then only up to a gallon.

    So really, any time a homebrewer takes their tasty beverage off their property in the state of Washington, unless it’s for a competition or sanctioned meeting, they’re breaking the law.

    The new law would allow transport for most uses (except for sale), and increase the amount to twenty gallons, as you mentioned.

  3. As of a month or two ago, Arlen Harris is no longer the Executive Director, and he no longer lobbies for the beer industry. But cheers to Arlen for all that he has done for WA beer in the past.

  4. As of a month or two ago, Arlen Harris is no longer the Executive Director, and he no longer lobbies for the beer industry. But cheers to Arlen for all that he has done for WA beer in the past.

  5. Wait a minute. The Commision was formed in 2006 and the Executive Director was defined as a three year position. Uh… Oh, ya. Time flies.

  6. Wait a minute. The Commision was formed in 2006 and the Executive Director was defined as a three year position. Uh… Oh, ya. Time flies.

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